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July 18th, 2009 - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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July 18th, 2009


09:09 am - (500) Words for Summer
(500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, declares itself to be not a love story, but a story about love. The Pushing Daisies-esque narrator—who is honestly a bit superfluous and underused but still effective—is accurate! Using the day Tom and Summer break up as a fulcrum, the story shifts back and forth from the halcyon beginnings of the relationship to the gloomy, bitter deterioration and then continues time-jumping as Tom essays to win her back. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Annie Hall. I do heart non-linear narrative, and here it helps put the prototypical Relationship into perspective, the way you remember everything all out of order, sometimes even focusing on little moments without their proper context. It's not so fractured that it's hard to follow, though; it's surprisingly chronological.

Tom believes in love; Summer does not. Will these two crazy kids work it out? We hope so! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is absolutely adorable, an awkward architect who has ended up writing greeting cards (is this your future, Ted Mosby?). Zooey Deschanel is the new girl at the office, and she is basically a toned-down, hipster version of the free-spirited character Zooey usually plays. They're both great in their roles, letting you see the real people underneath my superficial adjectives. It appears they're made for each other, but we know they break up, but it's still cute! Yeah, this is not your typical romantic comedy. Does your typical romantic comedy feature Regina Spektor and the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian on the soundtrack? No, it does not. This is a romantic comedy for cool indie kids.

As I said before, this is a story about love. It is a story being told, and that conceit allows for a fair bit of whimsy to enter the proceedings. First-time director Marc Webb, who comes from the world of music videos, always seems to find just the right moment to be cinematically clever. There are a couple stand-out sequences, one that highlights the joys of new love and one that conveys the true agony that can come when reality differs from your expectations.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were somehow also responsible for The Pink Panther 2, so I hope that this movie is a true reflection of their talent. The script is peppered with great little jokes that had our audience laughing so hard we missed the following lines. It's a well constructed narrative that never flags, continually examining the ups and downs of love and, specifically, the relationship between these two people. It ends perfectly.

(500) Days of Summer is hilarious and sweet and sad and lovely. I saw a free screening weeks ago and have been wanting to rave about it since, but now that it is open in select theatres, you can actually see it. I hope it gets a wider release, because this movie ought to be the sleeper hit of the summer.
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Regina Spektor - Fidelity
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